SHAWS BAY: The scene of yesterdays swimming tragedy.
SHAWS BAY: The scene of yesterdays swimming tragedy.

Elderly man dies after being pulled from water


AN ELDERLY Sydney man has died after being pulled unconscious from the water at Ballina yesterday.

The 70-year-old was attempting to swim across Shaws Bay about 3pm.

Craig Parker, of Brisbane, who is holidaying at a nearby caravan park, said he saw the man get into trouble.

"The man was swimming and was being watched by his son and partner from the other side, but got into trouble halfway across," he said.

"His son raced to the side of the bay and grabbed him, then tried to revive him on the shore."

According to Mr Parker, the man had spent five minutes face down in the water before anyone reached him.

Mr Parker's sister-in-law also assisted with performing CPR on the man.

"I was in shock, but she just stepped in and helped. She really deserves a pat on the back for trying to resuscitate him," he said.

Mr Parker said his sister-in-law recently completed a CPR course, and that he wished he had been able to help more in the situation.

"This was definitely the last thing we thought we'd see on our holiday," he said.

Ambulance crews arrived soon afterwards and took the man to Ballina Hospital in a critical condition. He was later declared dead.

The manager at a Ballina caravan park on the foreshore of Shaws Bay said swimming across the bay was a popular thing to do for visitors and locals. She said she had never heard of anyone drowning while attempting the swim.

The Ballina tragedy was one of three similar incidents across NSW yesterday. Another 70-year-old man was pulled unconscious from the surf at La Perouse in Sydney, and another man was airlifted from the surf at Bronte Beach, also in Sydney.

An Ambulance NSW representative said it was very rare to have so many incidents on one day, especially so early in summer.

The ambulance service issued a warning urging people to take care when in and around the water.

They advised parents to always supervise children , for people to swim between the flags on ocean beaches and for swimmers to obey lifeguards' instructions.

As the party season approaches, Ambulance NSW also warned people not to drink alcohol while swimming, or drink alcohol if they planned to enter the water. In the event of an emergency people should dial triple-zero and ask for an ambulance.

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